“I’m Steve Biko with a mic” – Blaklez.Strong words from the Pretoria emcee. Blaklez came in to prominence via the groups Pressure Point alongside Ras and Stas, and then The Anvils, with current label mate on Cap City Records, N’veigh. Since then he is renowned as a straight talking rapper who doesn’t mince his words whether in the booth or outside. With this release, backed by an EMI distribution deal, the Black Beast has been unleashed to our ears.
With the fact that this debut solo has been in the pipelines since 2010, you have come to expect that a change in musical direction from Blaklez will be inevitable. After he released the mixtape 10 Seconds To Showtime and an abundant number of free downloads, it’s somewhat sad that three of the songs on the album have been out for more than a year; which makes this 13-track offering partly a combination of Blaklez in 2010 and stat quo Blaklez.
The album starts with a symphony strong “Before I Die” produced by Krushal, which sees Blaklez pour his heart out. Talking about his quest for greatness and how his mother’s words ring loud in his ears during this quest as he also remembers his friend that passed away. Lines like, “Before I die, momma said do it for yourself” and “I don’t do drugs ‘cause life is hard enough/you can either spend it complaining or toughen up” exhibit how charged up Blaklez is on the opening track of the album.
“Hush” featuring PDot O has been on high rotation and the Sean Pages produced beat is a banger. Accompanied with a video, this was the first single off the album opening with the now eternal line “I’m Steve Biko with a mic”. The track “Don’t Be Scared” is a crow-swayer and fits into the current trend of remaking Kwaito songs; taking nothing away from the additions by Heroin Beatz on the Mdu “Mazola” beat and Blaklez’s verses. I’d say it’s a hot song with a lot of dispositions to it. We then move to one of the most anticipated collaborations on the album with Cashtime’s Kid X on “Chaela” – a laid back Towdee Mac production has Kid X lacing a very relaxed verse. Some may say it feels laid back but Blaklez bossed both his verses with a smooth flow.
“Limping” was released in 2010 and got famous for the remix featuring the All Stars. “Be Yourself” was released before the album title was announced and had a video, which ended with the song “Hit ‘Em With A Bottle”.
The song “Would You Love Me” feat PDot O will catch many by surprise. Blaklez laces all the raps and PDot O sings the hook. Trust me, PDot can floor a couple of R&B singers. They discuss what is the threshold of the lady’s love – Is it possible to be loved when you have neither style nor money? “Deep”, features Dineo Ranaka aka Didi and has Junior Taurus on the boards. Blaklez and Didi play a couple that was together and now are attracted to each other but can’t seem to get together. “Fly Away” can be considered a bar anthem as Blaklez turns to alcohol to forget about his problems and let loose to have a night of booze and fun. I have to say, his flow on this Heroin Beatz production is impeccable.
L-Tido and Teepee extend a verse and hook respectively on “We Run This” that has a strong element of keys on the production; you can’t help but nod along to the beat. The guys lay claim to their status and position in the game. “Plain And Clear” feat PDot O and J-Lawless is another previously released song but it has to be said that J-Lawless, despite the fact that singing is his forte more than rap, had the best verse. Blaklez admits it at the end of the song that J-Lawless, aptly nicknamed Straight Jacket J went crazy on this joint.
The last song on the album is the most anticipated collaboration on the album and truth is, it supersedes the expectation. Blaklez enlists N’veigh and Maggz on “Rise” which is most likely the standout out track alongside “Before I Die” for me. Verses heartfelt, flows immaculate and this will draw more “oohs and ahhs” than a soccer game with close misses.
In its entirety, The Black Beast is a good listen, with the let-down being that his previously released songs from more than two years ago formed part of this project. Needless to say, his songs are single worthy, there are a mix of heartfelt songs and your “going in hard” songs are in abundance, making this a pretty balanced offering.
Written By: @SDotJR_